Inspiration for recipes not only comes from staring at the pantry, for scents are part of the culinary experience. Lavender Apple is one of my favorite shower gels at a small chain of bath shops located in New York City. It’s not a teenage bubble gum, sugary scent. The fragrance is mildly sweet and calm. The taste of this bread recipe is slightly similar to the smell of the shower gel because of the lavender flowers. However, this bread has an earthy taste.
The earthy taste is a combination of unbleached white flour, whole-wheat flour and ground yellow cornmeal. I was a little skeptical about combining a myriad of flours with lavender, for whole-wheat-flour has a “type-A” taste. It’s a hearty flavor, beneficial to maintaining good health. The cornmeal has a sweet and gritty taste. The white flour remains neutral in flavor.
Another inspiration for this recipe is the start of autumn and the season of apples. Besides purchasing Granny Smith, MacIntosh and Gold Delicious year round, this is the time to discover heirloom varieties. I recently experimented with Cox’s Orange Pippen in a pizza recipe. It’s a small and tart apple, excellent for baking in pies, cakes and breads.
With a combination of different flours, dried lavender and tart apples, this hearty bread has a slightly sweet and floral taste. I was pleasantly surprised the lavender didn’t compete with the flours. Then I remember the floral scent of lavender has a slight earthy smell, too. This is the herb used in herbes de Provence spice mixes including marjoram, thyme, rosemary and oregano. In the season of crumbly leaves, such earthy smells are comforting and calm for cooler weather in days ahead. Perhaps, I should continue visiting beauty shops for more recipe ideas.
Besides print and online sources for food, what else inspires your recipes?
- Enough butter at room temperature to grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan
- 2 heaping tbsp. dried lavender flowers
- 3/4-cup sugar; more if a sweeter taste is preferred
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose white flour
- 1/2-cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2-cup ground yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4-cup olive oil or cooled melted butter
- 1-1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 heaping cup peeled, cored and diced apple (tart and sweet such as Granny Smith, Cox’s Orange Pippen, and so forth)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease loaf pan with butter.
- In the bowl of a food processor, process lavender flowers and sugar together until flowers are finer in texture. Place lavender sugar in a large bowl.
- In the same large bowl as the lavender sugar, toss the white and wheat flours, cornmeal, salt and baking powder.
- In another bowl, whisk egg, vanilla, olive oil and milk.
- Making a well in the middle of the dry ingredients’ bowl, pour in the wet ingredients and the diced apples. Using a rubber spatula, gently and quickly fold in the all the ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix, for the batter should be slightly lumpy.
- Pour batter into the loaf pan. Place loaf pan in the oven to bake from 50 minutes to one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out completely clean (very few bread crumbs are okay). Place bread on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
- Remove bread from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
- Enjoy with honey goat cheese at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.”
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